All through the day on Saturday I just had this feeling welling up in my throat to cry. I don't even know what about, just that I wanted to cry. I think it's been a build up of a million things and since today is a day off, not having to think about anything sort of felt like letting a wall down. I actually felt like Edward Norton in Fight Club, where at the beginning he talks about going to these meetings for all sorts of people -- addicts, the terminally ill, etc -- just so he could have a good cry.
But I didn't actually cry. I don't know why. A lot of the time I find it hard to cry. Unless it's something specifically sad and I'm not in front of people. I think it's because I'm not good at being vulnerable. For a long time I didn't think it was very 'masculine' to cry, that guys just don't do that sort of thing. Girls, sure -- go ahead and cry at that movie and we guys will be stoned face and give you a hug and be the strong, silent protector. Weakness is bad. Maintain defenses at all times.
That may seem odd, especially coming from me, because I've never been a "guy's guy" -- I'm not into sports, I don't particularly like maggots and other slimy things, and I don't enjoy the taste of beer (or 'Expensive Urine' as I prefer to call it). So being 'tough' might seem like an odd goal for a guy like to me to strive for. I think, though, those reasons were
why I always wanted to be tough -- or at least strong and self-confident. To be a guy who doesn't like sports and
feels like crying isn't much o' a good combination. I've always been terrified of being over-feminine. For one thing, I don't think it's healthy, and two, I don't think that's how God wants us to be -- he created two genders for a reason.
But I think it comes down to being confused about what a real man is. It seems to go in extremes -- you're either a big tough guy who prefers alcohol to water (or would at least prefer an amalgamation of the two) or a girl. There's no middle ground, no other definition of a "man". Or so I've been led to believe.
I know being vulnerable has always been an issue for me. Somewhere early on in High School I swore off swimming. The last time I can actually remember being submerged in water was in El Salvador, just before we came home -- we had an R & R day and we went into the Ocean. Even then I can remember feeling apprehensive about it, but I figured, heck, this was a once in a lifetime thing. So I threw caution to the wind and jumped in. But that was the last time. And that was when I was 16 -- 6 years ago. Since then I've repeatedly told people I don't like to swim -- and while there is truth in that, I don't say it the way I mean it. I actually love swimming. I have great memories of it (I even threw up in a wave pool once! Wahoo!). But what I don't like about swimming is the idea of me taking off my shirt and jumping into a pool full of people (or even a couple of people). It's like asking me to run naked through a church during a funeral.
It's pretty bad too. Even with my roommates at college, I'd never take off my shirt in front of them. I got bugged about it a few times, but I preferred to be bugged about that then what I feared I'd be bugged about if I did take my shirt off. But it's just that -- being vulnerable. I hide behind clothes, or I at least try to. Without them I've got no protection, no defenses. I find that...very uncomfortable.
I hide behind a lot of things, I think. It's a safety thing. Being defenseless, out in the open without something to protect myself with, is terrifying. I think that is why being close to people is such a scary thing for me. There is a point in every relationship I start with people where I have these sirens going off in my head telling me to pull back, pull out, jump ship, abandon my post -- just salvage what's left and run for my life. I don't enjoy those sirens. I don't enjoy a compulsive desire for safety. And I've become convinced there is no real solution either. It's like anything else in life, most obviously fear -- there is nothing else to do but face it and keep going. When I hear those alarms in my head going off, I just have to ignore them. I'm obviously going to be facing the same situation, and therefore hear the same warning bells, my entire life, so there is no use cowering under a rock. But man if it isn't hard.
I've always wondered why God lets us go through some things and others go through other things and then still others, other things. We're all so different, and our uniqueness goes beyond simply our looks to even our personal demons. I suppose those issues are part of what makes us so unique -- how we respond, how we work through them, how we choose to reveal them (or not reveal them). These things are part of what make us who we are. I suppose that offers some comfort to me, but it doesn't make the actual act of overcoming them any more enjoyable.
But who said life guaranteed enjoyment?